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Trust, the one thing a subscription business can’t get wrong

Trust, the one thing a subscription business can’t get wrong

In January, after reading a Business Insider article promoting them, I subscribed to the bespoke shirt service from Hall & Madden. They were offering three dress shirts based on Hugo Boss styling and manufacturing for $150. The best thing is that they would deliver three new shirts every three months. As someone who never gets around to buying new shirts this seemed to solve a number of problems, chiefly my sloppy unstylish dressing.

I told the sales manager about what an awesome deal they offered and he dismissed it with a snort, “Mate, go down the road and you can pick up two good shirts for $60 and take them home straight away. Straight away!” The sales guy is a spontaneous buyer who needs demands instant gratification. Subscription buying is just too slow for a proactive sales buyer like him.

For the more laid back buyer like me, subscription businesses like Dollar Shave Club, BeautyArmy, ShoeDazzle, and many others offer an opportunity to passively consume nappies, undies, shoes, cars, holidays, and food. For a hungry startup business, the subscription business offers a nice annuity revenue stream and a sexy way of disrupting traditional retail models.

The key to being successful for a subscription business is keeping subscribers interested with offers that make them happy, costs low, and like any online business in this social world, trust.

Trust is the basis for a subscription relationship. Convincing customers to continue subscribing means they need to be happy with the quality, comfortable with the price, pleasantly surprised by a delivery every month or quarter, and delighted by the convenience. Trust means that you’re straight with me if something is wrong.

Unfortunately for me, Hall & Madden, broke the number one rule, they broke my trust.

I still haven’t received my shirts because “our shirts are sitting in customs still and frustratingly [we] don’t have any control over that process and no one has been able to give us a timeline.” I got this response after emailing them about my missing shirts. A better way to handle it would have been to send me an email apologising and offer me a refund. They could have made it kind of fun.

I am going to ride it out and hope that Hall & Madden can deliver what they promised. Plus, I cannot let the old fashioned sales manager be right.

What do you think?


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    As the owner of the business I respect your comments and share your disappointment. For full-disclosure sake please let people know you are in Australia and never paid a $35 International shipping fee. Stuck in customs was because of the Chinese New Year Holiday that we had no power over- we had documentation that we would get in before their 2 week break but we were unable too. Your order as well as other Australian orders (who also paid for international shipping) were effected. We no longer do International orders.

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